Top Five Children’s Films

By Wyndham Hacket Pain

Hugo

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A love letter to film from one of its great masters, Martin Scorsese’s Hugo is both a visual and storytelling delight. Looking back at the life of cinematic innovator Georges Méliès, there is a rich sense and appreciation for cinema’s history. It is amazing to see a filmmaker so in command of his craft and tools, and few films display the elements that make cinema so special as clearly as this one.

The Red Balloon

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Looking at current releases it would appear that it takes flashy special effects, 3D, catchy pop songs, and talking animals to entertain a child. Yet children’s pleasures are much simpler and The Red Balloon is a masterpiece of simplicity. Set in the streets of Paris and first released in 1956, the film looks at the intimate bond between a child and a balloon, as well as the forces trying to push them apart.

Ratatouille

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In truth I could have chosen any of the wonderful Pixar releases that have dazzled audiences over the last 20 years. Ratatouille, however, remains my favourite and has a unique charm that has never quite been recaptured. Set in a Parisian restaurant, there is a real sense of place to the film, which delicately balances storytelling bliss and themes of dedication and artistic endeavour.

The Wizard of Oz

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A Christmas staple and the best possible film to demonstrate to children the magic of cinema. The transition from sepia to colour amazed viewers who first saw it back in 1939 and the effect is no less enchanting today. The Wizard of Oz is in many ways a symbol of the escapist power of cinema and there is no better film to distil to people of all ages a love of film.

Spirited Away

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It was more than 12 years between my first and second viewing, and I was no less captivated with the beautiful visuals and mythical plot. The crowning achievement of Studio Ghibli, whose aminations rival and in many cases surpass those of Disney and Pixar, Spirited Away is a brilliant allegory for growing up and the changing relationship between children and parents that occurs during this period. Filled with imaginative characters, as well as darkness and ambiguity, this film is a world all its own.

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